The 29th ESPY Awards, the annual ceremony devoted to honoring standout professional and collegiate athletes and teams of the past year, aired on July 10.
It's the sports equivalent to the Oscars or Grammys, so Star Local Media has decided in recent years to put a high school spin on the concept.
The 2020-21 school year won’t be soon forgotten by the athletes, coaches and fans involved, as high schools adapted to the change brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and managed to play out a full year of high school sports.
During that time, McKinney showcased no shortage of notable individual and team athletic achievements, so it’s only appropriate to put the last year of local sports into an award-winning perspective. Over a three-week stretch, the city’s top athletes, teams and games will be recognized among nine different awards.
With that said, Star Local Media presents the ninth edition of The Varsitys.
Best Performance: McKinney Boyd’s Matteo Bianchi vs. Trophy Club Byron Nelson, football
The Broncos were slow out of the gates for their 2020 season with an 0-3 record heading into their final non-district game on Oct. 15.
Boyd wound up righting the ship and notching its first playoff berth since 2014 and its 14-7 overtime win over the Bobcats helped steer things in the right direction.
The play of star linebacker Bianchi was central to Boyd’s first win of the season, impacting the contest in myriad ways on defense.
Bianchi totaled 15 tackles, including six for a loss of yardage, as well as two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, a pass break-up and a blocked kick in the victory.
Boyd needed overtime to take down Nelson and Bianchi helped seal the win with a third-down sack prior to a fourth-down incompletion by the Bobcats.
Best Coach: Libby Rodriguez, McKinney North volleyball
When Rodriguez made the move from Lewisville to North, she initially helped steady a program already on the rise. The Lady Bulldogs qualified for the playoffs in consecutive seasons for just the second time ever during Rodriguez’s first year at the helm.
North made a leap in 2020, however, making a claim as one of the best in Class 5A after advancing to the regional finals for the first time in program history. Entering the season, North had totaled just one playoff win in its history.
Named Star Local Media’s all-area coach of the year, Rodriguez helped a slew of young players navigate both the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the most challenging regions in the state.
On the year, North posted a 23-4 record with three of those losses coming to No. 1-ranked state champion Lovejoy.
Biggest Upset: McKinney Boyd softball defeats Flower Mound, April 29
A fourth-place finish in 5-6A meant an unenviable draw for the Boyd softball team, which began the playoffs with a best-of-3 series against 6-6A champion Flower Mound.
The Lady Jaguars had just polished off an undefeated run through their own district and did so by allowing just 1.3 runs per game.
Flower Mound wound up making a run to the state semifinals but had its hands full early on against the upstart Lady Broncos.
Boyd drew first blood in the bi-district series after posting a 2-0 shutout win in Game 1 over the Lady Jaguars. Handing Flower Mound its first loss since Feb. 25, Boyd scratched out a run in the first inning on an RBI single by alum Kinsey Kackley and added another in the bottom of the sixth after sophomore Savanna Luther launched a solo home run.
It was enough of a cushion for Kackley to work with in the circle. Boyd’s star pitcher allowed just two hits and struck out 15 batters over seven innings to preserve the shutout win.